A businessman leaving is pulled back by a magnet, representing how employers need to work to build and keep employee loyalty.
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How can employers inspire loyalty in an evolving workplace?

21 Jun 2024

Younger generations are redefining what it means to be loyal in their careers and aspirations. With this evolution in mind, what does workplace loyalty look like now?

For Rob Porter, the head of market and business development at global software company CoSo Cloud, workplace loyalty is an understanding that you are a vital part of a larger entity. “Employees who recognise their significance within the organisation and comprehend how their performance directly contributes to the company’s success are more likely to exhibit loyalty,” says Porter. 

But as younger generations begin to join and progress through the workforce, there has been a natural shift in opinion around the topic of workplace loyalty, with people re-evaluating the entire concept and querying how current loyalty expectations align with their own professional goals. 

While many may still prescribe to traditional standards like exhibiting loyalty to a specific employer, Porter notes organisations will have to accept the changing views and “accommodate the diverse values and priorities of their workforce, including the desire for autonomy, flexibility and personal fulfilment”.

For Porter, loyalty can be viewed as a form of self-survival, as if an employee is not performing well, the company tends to suffer, which in turn can jeopardise the individual’s job security, compensation and overall wellbeing.   

People demonstrate loyalty by making a conscious effort to excel in their role and support the organisation’s objectives. “This reciprocal relationship underscores the importance of fostering a culture of mutual respect, trust and commitment between employers and employees,” says Porter. 

Generational gaps

The narrative that many of us would have heard tends to suggest that Gen Z (people born between 1997 and 2012) and boomers (people born between 1946 and 1964) are responsible for the significant division of opinion in the workforce. 

In Porter’s opinion, issues with workplace loyalty have less to do with a generational divide and in most cases are unique to the person and their own world view. “The issue at hand in the workplace transcends mere age, finding focus in the values individuals hold,” he explains. 

“While it’s true that different generations may exhibit certain predilections towards specific values, such as autonomy or stability, it’s the intrinsic values that truly dictate workplace behaviour.”

A prime example of this is the demand for remote and hybrid working opportunities, post-pandemic. Jobseekers and those already in employment are re-evaluating their negotiating positions and are becoming increasingly more vocal about what they expect from employment, beyond a salary. 

According to Porter, people, regardless of age or status, who are more independent and adventurous might pursue diverse job opportunities, whereas someone who highly values security and community may offer their enduring loyalty to a single employer. 

“Therefore, rather than solely fixating on generational disparities, it’s imperative to delve into the underlying motivations of individuals and cultivate an organisational ethos that respects and accommodates a spectrum of values and perspectives,” says Porter. “This approach fosters an inclusive workplace environment wherein all employees, regardless of age or background, feel esteemed and supported.” 

Lulls in loyalty

Unaddressed loyalty issues in the workplace can manifest in a number of ways according to Porter, particularly in high rates of turnover, frequent job hopping and widespread employee disengagement“These issues often stem from poor communication, limited growth opportunities and ethical concerns within the organisation.”

Porter notes that talent retention is a key concern in today’s competitive market, therefore underlying challenges must be dealt with “by fostering a positive company culture, providing avenues for professional development and ensuring fair treatment of employees”. 

He states that a failure to prioritise issues of workplace loyalty can have a disastrous effect on a company, leading to a decrease in productivity, disruptions to workflow and the loss of valuable institutional knowledge and expertise. 

“Moreover, disloyalty can erode trust and morale within the company, contributing to a toxic work environment and damaging the organisation’s reputation both internally and externally,” explains Porter. 

Proactive measures are crucial, as the continuous cycle of recruitment and training of new employees to make up for the deficit can drive up costs and make it far more difficult to attract top tier talent to the organisation. 

Ultimately, employees need to feel invested in by the companies that they work for. Be it through the recognition of achievements, employee development or a healthy work-life balance, by providing effective leadership and sought-after benefits, employers are showing that they prioritise employee wellbeing through action, not just words. 

Porter says that working for a company is fundamentally a relationship and like all relationships, it thrives on trust, communication and mutual respect. 

“Employees who feel valued and supported are more likely to be engaged and committed to the organisation’s goals, while employers benefit from a loyal and dedicated workforce invested in their success,” says Porter. 

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Laura Varley
By Laura Varley

Laura Varley is a Careers reporter at Silicon Republic. She has a background in technology PR and journalism and is borderline obsessed with film and television, the theatre, Marvel and Mayo GAA. She is currently trying to learn how to knit.

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